2,422 NGOs got Rs 800 cr in foreign donations: Probe

Many failed to show tangible proof of spending

 An inquiry by the Internal Security Division (ISD) of the State police has found that as many as 2,422 non-profit organisations active in Karnataka and registered with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs receive on an average a whopping Rs 800 crore in foreign donations a year.

That is, however, not the final picture as there is no centralised information on how many NGOs, under the banner of civil society, are active through foreign donations in the State.

The ISD dug into the records after Congress MLA K R Ramesh Kumar raised questions about the manner in which NGOs function and their financial condition. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had directed the police to dig out the details.

The ISD also found that there are at least 50,000 NGOs, including self-help groups, associations and trusts.

Sources in the ISD said that of the 2,422 NGOs that received foreign monetary support, many have not shown any tangible evidence of the donations being utilised for a special purpose or cause. The inquiry also revealed that a majority of the NGOs have not maintained proper records of the donations they received.

Sources also said that several NGOs could not even show the details of expenditure towards a specific agenda or programme for which the donations were claimed.

Besides, almost all NGOs gave information for only two financial years—2012-13 or 2013-14—while the ISD had served them notices seeking details of at least three consecutive years.

As per MHA records, NGOs in Karnataka are said to receive Rs 1,100 crore every year in foreign donations.

Hence, the ISD is looking into this difference of Rs 300 crore between the MHA and State figures of the donations received.

While most of the NGOs have provided at least some information on their funding, some have questioned the ISD’s right to enquire into their monetary affairs. Among such NGOs is the well-known Samaj Parivatan Samudaya (SPS) headed by activist S R Hiremath. The SPS is said to have questioned the ISD’s authority to enquire into the fundings of the NGOs by sending a written response to the police. 

But sources assert that refusing information by the NGOs does not amount to any offence as they are legally within their rights not to reveal any information. For there is no particular investigating agency which has been formed or appointed by the government to seek details or conduct an investigation.

The ISD is said to be sending a report to the State government soon as part of a reply to Ramesh Kumar’s question. The report is said to include certain recommendations that may be required to make the NGOs show transparency in their financial dealings.

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